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Aug08

Water for Maintenance Workers

We have maintenance workers who are not assigned to a specific site, but travel throughout Sacramento and work at apartment complexes through the day. Are we required to provide them with water, or are they to provide their own? Please let us know as we do not want to violate any OSHA guidelines.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes standards for employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful working conditions.

Under OSHA’s general standards, potable water must be provided at all places of employment in amounts that are adequate to meet the health and personal needs of each employee. Potable water means water that is safe from toxins and meets the standard for drinking purposes set forth by state and/or municipality regulations.

These standards apply to permanent places of employment. Though many OSHA regulations extend to traveling employees, we were unable to locate any standards that specifically address providing water to traveling maintenance workers.

Some states have OSHA-approved state plans that further cover workers. California is one of them, assuming you’re in Sacramento, California.

Per Cal/OSHA, “Employees shall have access to potable drinking water meeting the requirements of Sections 1524, 3363, and 3457, as applicable, including but not limited to the requirements that it be fresh, pure, suitably cool, and provided to employees free of charge. The water shall be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working. Where drinking water is not plumbed or otherwise continuously supplied, it shall be provided in sufficient quantity at the beginning of the work shift to provide one quart per employee per hour for drinking for the entire shift. Employers may begin the shift with smaller quantities of water if they have effective procedures for replenishment during the shift as needed to allow employees to drink one quart or more per hour. The frequent drinking of water, as described in subsection (h)(1)(C), shall be encouraged.”

These standards apply to outdoor places of employment in agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction, and the transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction materials or other heavy materials. Depending on the type of maintenance work conducted, your workers may be covered by this standard. For example, the landscaping industry includes providing landscape care and maintenance services and/or installing trees, shrubs, plants, lawns, or gardens, or providing these services in conjunction with the design of landscape plans and/or the construction (i.e., installation) of walkways, retaining walls, decks, fences, ponds, and similar structures, except for employment by an employer who operates a fixed establishment where the work is to be performed and where drinking water is plumbed.

The full regulation can be read at http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3395.html. If you have any doubts to the applicability of the regulation to your workers, it’s advisable to contact your local Cal/OSHA office.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 8th, 2016 at 6:32 pm and is filed under
Workplace Health & Safety.
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